Phoenix Suns: Why an NBA Finals Loss Will Make Devin Booker Better

Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Even though it ended in unceremonious fashion, Devin Booker’s playoff run with the Phoenix Suns last year was must-see television. The six-year shooting guard old embarrassed opposing defenses almost every time he took the floor, fully cementing himself as a true NBA superstar.

During the dream run that culminated with Phoenix’s first NBA Finals berth since 1993, Booker averaged 27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. He also included three 40-point performances, the most by any player under age 25 since Rick Barry in 1967.

Needless to say, Booker showed out big time, offering an impressive encore performance from his 8-0 bubble run last year.

But what can Phoenix’s brightest star pull off next? After surrendering a two game lead by losing four straight contests during the NBA Finals, bringing a title to the Valley feels like his most obvious objective to chase after next.

Newsflash though—that goal is shared more or less by every other NBA player as well, making it undoubtedly the most difficult thing for anyone to achieve. But luckily for the Suns and Booker, last year’s Finals loss will give him an edge over all his competitor, motivating him to reach heights greater than ever before.

The NBA’s past proves that this all too well. Over the past 10 years, almost every NBA Finals MVP needed to suffer an NBA Finals loss before learning how to take home their sought after hardware. Only two won it all during their first try, and those two were Andre Iguodala and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who although not at the Finals level—still lost extensively during their postseason ventures before winning as well.

But even outside this “fail and then succeed” trend, we know Booker holds himself to an incredibly high standard already, and his personal competitiveness should help him elevate his game as well.

Although Booker respectfully dispelled all the comparisons to the late, great Kobe Bryant which arose during his playoff run this year, the fact that they existed to begin with still speaks volumes. Nobody brought a more competitive nature to the game than Bryant, other than perhaps his idol Michael Jordan, putting Booker into good company.

Booker’s own brand of the “Mamba Mentality” alongside his noteworthy eagerness to play tooth and nail has already helped him grow into an absolute stud. But now with a crushing NBA Finals loss in the back of his head, those feelings should multiply, and consequently lift his game.

At the end of the day, Booker remains only 24-years old as well. His age reflects the massive room that still exists for him to grow and develop, making it more likely than not that his best days still lie ahead him.

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Since the moment he threw on a Suns jersey, Booker never gave Phoenix fans a reason to look away. But now more than ever, he deserves our attention with all these factors coming into play. So keep an eye out for Booker next year, and all those still to come.